Though available throughout the year, Spring seems particularly special for lemons. And, while I've tasted them in different ways, one of the most popular image and flavor that my mind associates with the sight and smell of a lemon is a childhood dessert from my mother’s kitchen. And interestingly enough, growing up in India limes were more popular than lemons, except when making this dish.
It seems odd that the association of lemons with eggs and sugar has been described in ways that does not make intuitive sense: for instance, "lemon cheese" and more popularly, "lemon curd" are terms that are used to describe the smooth, cream-like dish made by carefully heating a mixture of lemon juice, eggs and sugar – with no milk, much less curds or cheese. But, lemon curd is the name that everyone relates to, and here’s a method to make lemon curd:
Eggs (whole eggs instead of just yolks can be used to make a lighter lemon curd)
Depending on the type of lemon and preference for citrus flavor, mix the juice of one to two lemons, and the zest of a lemon, with four to five yolks and between half to three-quarter cups of sugar depending on preference for sweetness. Continuously whisk this mixture over a low flame until it thickens to a cream-like consistency. Adjust heat to avoid scrambling the egg yolks but to allow for the mixture to thicken. A curved-sided heavy bottom pan helps for this purpose. Add a few tablespoons of butter towards the end, whisk to a smooth, silky consistency and then chill the mixture in an ice-bath to prevent further cooking before refrigeration. Since lemon curd can spoil easily make in small batches. To make a lemon curd tart, fill a fully baked pastry shell with the lemon curd just before serving.
The Williamsburg Cookbook released by the Colonial Williamsburg foundation, in describing a recipe for lemon chess tarts - in what looks like a recipe for lemon curd tart - says that the fifteenth century precursor of this tart contained just light pastry and cheese. With time while cheese was no longer used, the old name remained, along the way also changing from cheese to chess, a misnomer that is used to this day in some bakeries and books. Recipes change with time, and their names do too, but not always in conjunction with each other. Why? Does the oddity of a recipe's name remain to pique curiosity, to tell a story?